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Robert Horton (actor)

Meade Howard Horton Jr. (July 29, 1924 – March 9, 2016), known as Robert Horton, was an American actor and singer.

Robert Horton
Robert horton 1976.JPG
Horton in Police Woman (1976)
Meade Howard Horton Jr.

(1924-07-29)July 29, 1924
DiedMarch 9, 2016(2016-03-09) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUCLA
OccupationTelevision, film, stage actor, singer
Years active1952–1989
Political partyRepublican Party
  • Mary Katherine Jobe
    (m. 1945; div. 1950)
  • Barbara Ruick
    (m. 1953; div. 1956)
  • Marilynn Bradley Horton
    (m. 1960; his death 2016)


Early lifeEdit

One of two sons, Horton was born as Meade Howard Horton Jr. on July 29, 1924, in Los Angeles, California. He was the son of Meade Howard Horton and Chetta McMurrin.[1]

Horton said that he never felt he fitted into the appropriate Mormon household, for being the hotheaded child that he was.[clarification needed] He survived several surgeries in childhood, including hernia repair and treatment for an enlarged kidney. Horton attended California Military Institute in Perris, where he played football.[2] After graduation in 1943 at age 19, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, but was medically discharged because of his kidney.[3] (The accuracy of the preceding graduation information might be questioned. The page linked to the citation does not name the school, and a document on the California Military Institute's website indicates that it began operation in 2003.[4] In contrast, the book From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000 by Bob Leszczak says of Horton, "He graduated from Hollywood High School in 1942.")[5]

In 1945, a chance encounter with the talent scout led to an uncredited part in Lewis Milestone's World War II film A Walk in the Sun (1945). He first studied dramatics at the University of Miami[1] but later changed schools and graduated cum laude from UCLA.[6] He relocated from California to New York City, where he worked as an unfamiliar struggling actor, before returning to California. At age 28, Horton signed a contract with MGM, appearing in films. It was there where he met unfamiliar younger actors, Robert Fuller and James Drury, who both became Horton's lifelong friends, for 62 years, from 1954 until his passing in 2016.[citation needed]


Horton's experience on stage included work with the American Theatre Wing in New York City, where he was the "resident leading man".[1] From that, he was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios,[1] where he "appeared in numerous films."[5] His "first major TV role" was on Ford Theatre in the episode "Portrait of Lydia", on December 16, 1954.[7]:297

In his six decades of television, Horton, who became known for his voice, was also most noted for his role as the frontier scout Flint McCullough in the NBC Western television series, Wagon Train from 1957 to 1962. His co-stars were Ward Bond, John McIntire, Terry Wilson, and Frank McGrath. He eventually quit the series to pursue a career in musical theater.[8]

Horton in Wagon Train.

His role on Wagon Train role was taken over by Robert Fuller as the scout Cooper Smith, and thereafter the series moved to ABC. Fuller, a veteran of the western series Laramie, resembled Horton, and the two actors coincidentally shared the same birthday, albeit nine years apart.[9]

Horton played Drake McHugh,[10] Ronald Reagan's role in the television version of Kings Row (1955), which also featured Jack Kelly, and ran for seven episodes as part of the Warner Bros. Presents series, rotating with a television version of Casablanca and Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker, the first television western in a 60-minute format.[citation needed]

The ruggedly handsome Horton made dozens of appearances in movies and television shows between 1951 and 1989, including a small role in the film Bright Road starring Dorothy Dandridge, an episode of Ray Milland's CBS sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, and on the syndicated Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield. Horton played Corporal Tom Vaughn in an episode "False Prophet" (1956) of the religion anthology series Crossroads.[citation needed]

Horton appeared on seven episodes of the anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including memorably as a tennis-playing bookie and blackmailer opposite Betsy von Furstenberg in "The Disappearing Trick", directed by Arthur Hiller. He was cast as Danny Barnes in the episode "No Place to Hide" of the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson and appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood and NBC's anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show. He appeared several times on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.[citation needed]

In the 1960s, Horton made two 45 RPM singles on the Columbia Records label: "The Very Thought of You"/"Hey There" and "King of the Road"/"Julie".[5]

Horton went on to perform for many years in theaters and nightclubs all over America, and in Australia as a singer (sometimes with his wife, the former Marilynn Bradley). In 1963, producer David Merrick hired him as the male lead in the musical version of N. Richard Nash's play The Rainmaker (entitled 110 in the Shade),[5] in the part played on the screen by Burt Lancaster. The musical, which boasted a score by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, ran for 330 performances on Broadway.[citation needed]

Horton is perhaps best remembered for his offbeat role as a cowboy amnesiac in the 1965-1966 ABC television series A Man Called Shenandoah.[10]:649

In 1966, he starred in The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones, the first Western made specifically for television and simultaneous distribution to cinemas in Europe. It was made by MGM and co-starred Sal Mineo and Diane Baker.[citation needed]

In 1968, two years later, Horton co-starred in The Green Slime (1968), a low-budget science fiction film, directed by Kinji Fukasaku and shot entirely in Japan, but with an American and European cast. In the film, Horton commands a team of astronauts on a mission to destroy an asteroid heading towards earth. His character, Jack Rankin, then leads the crew of a space station in a battle for survival against one-eyed tentacled aliens that rapidly multiply as they feed on the station's sources of electricity.[citation needed]

From 1983 to 1984, Horton took a turn in daytime soap operas, playing the part of Whit McColl on the CBS fixture As the World Turns.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

Horton was an accomplished pilot and aircraft owner. According to a "Plane and Pilot" profile:

His three greatest thrills were his first solo flight, a performance before Queen Elizabeth II, and being featured on Ralph Edwards' This Is Your Life. His frequent co-pilot was his French Poodle, "Jamie".[11]


Horton married actress Barbara Ruick (daughter of actress Lurene Tuttle) August 22, 1953, in Las Vegas, Nevada.[12]

On December 31, 1960, he married actress Marilynn Bradley, who limited her professional appearances on stage, with him. Horton and his wife lived in Encino, California for 55 years in the same home until 2015. Following his 85th birthday in 2009, Horton announced, through his publicist, that he would no longer be making any personal appearances because he had tired of traveling.[13]


He was the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards for television, including the prestigious Golden Boot in 2004,[14] and also the Cowboy Spirit Award at the National Festival of the West. On his 90th birthday, he received the Western Legend Award.[15]


Horton died of natural causes on the day of the Solar eclipse of March 9, 2016, at the age of 91, in a rehabilitation clinic in Los Angeles, California.[16] According to his niece, he was injured in a fall in November 2015, and was placed in hospice care. At his request, he didn't have a funeral. His remains were cremated.


Year Title Role Notes
1945 A Walk In The Sun Jack Uncredited
1951 The Tanks Are Coming Capt. Bob Horner Uncredited
1952 Return of the Texan Dr. Jim Harris
1952 Apache War Smoke Tom Herrera
1952 Pony Soldier Jess Calhoun
1953 The Story of Three Loves Friendly Young Man on Ship (segment "Mademoiselle"), Uncredited
1953 Bright Road Dr. Mitchell
1953 Code Two Russ Hartley
1953 Arena Jackie Roach
1954 Prisoner of War Francis Aloysius Belney
1954 Men of the Fighting Lady Ensign Neil Conovan
1956 The Man Is Armed Dr. Michael Benning
1966 The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones Kiowa Jones TV movie
1968 The Green Slime Commander Jack Rankin
1969 The Spy Killer John Smith TV movie
1970 Foreign Exchange TV movie
1988 Red River Mr. Melville, Cattle Buyer TV movie


  1. ^ a b c d "Mail Bag". Waco Tribune-Herald. Waco, TX. January 22, 1967. p. 56. Retrieved June 30, 2016 – via  
  2. ^ "Robert Horton, 91, Wagon Train actor". March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Sage, Alyssa (March 15, 2016). "Robert Horton, 'Wagon Train' Actor, Dies at 91". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  4. ^ "School Profile" (PDF). California Military Institute. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Leszczak, Bob (2015). From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950–2000. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 157–58. ISBN 9781442242746.
  6. ^ "Robert Horton Obituary". March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  7. ^ a b McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television (4th ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc. p. 62. ISBN 0-14-02-4916-8.
  8. ^ "TV Westerns - Wagon Train". FiftiesWeb. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  9. ^ "The Official Robert Fuller Website: Biography". Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  10. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 567.
  11. ^ "Actor-Pilot ROBERT HORTON". Plane and Pilot. July 1967. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  12. ^ "Starlet Barbara Ruick, Young Actor Married". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California. Associated Press. August 24, 1953. p. 4.
  13. ^ "Whatsnew". 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  14. ^ "Golden Boot Awards 2004". Golden Boot Awards. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  15. ^ "The National Day of The Cowboy". 2014-06-18. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  16. ^ "Western Movies and More". Retrieved 2016-10-30.

External linksEdit